After reading these articles, it made me think a lot about the similarities and disparities between virtual worlds and the real world. Naturally, we tend to base the virtual worlds off of aspects of our own world, implementing realistic elements into the game. However, human beings seem to have an inherent desire to blur the lines between imagination/fantasy and reality. We give our characters unique abilities and features in our virtual world that we cannot do in the real world; flying, teleporting, using magic, respawning, etc. In instances like this, I believe that the virtual worlds act as an extension to the real world. It allows us to meet people from all over the globe that we would never have met in person and create interpersonal relationships, work together to accomplish tasks, etc. The Sanchez articles discusses how they also allow humans to be creative and use their imaginations in fantastic, unrealistic and unimaginable circumstances via MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft (Sanchez) or in realistic interpretations of the real world (Second Life).
(In game screenshot of the popular World of Warcraft MMORPG, taken from: http://mmohuts.com/wp-content/gallery/the-warlords-overview/the-warlords-man-city.jpg%3Fec9f9b)
However, using the Internet gives a special trait to people that they would not have in the real world; anonymity. When people are not afraid of being known or accountable for their actions, I believe they tend to act much differently then they would in person. In Same Shit, Different World, Bans talks about how if an avatar is African American, many other players are not hesitant to fire off racist remarks or belittlements. In the real world, outbursts like that are significantly less common and are tolerated much less. I think its very interesting how some negative aspects of our society are accentuated in virtual worlds because of the anonymity and the lack of rules and repercussions.
Also in Same Shit, Different World, the author discusses how some aspects of our society that are cherished such as beauty, being tall or fit, are also exaggerated in virtual worlds. In addition, some other things like racism, sex, the value of men over women, are also exacerbated. He states that, “Second Life is a thin, able-bodied place. It is also glaringly a white place (4).” I find it very interesting that our real world society seems to be a significantly more equal place than it is online. However, in virtual worlds where anonymity plays a key role, some of these prejudices and habits are seen much more commonly, and “forbidden fruit” type things (sex, pornography) are also much more prevalent. Virtual worlds almost appear to be stereotyped versions of aspects of the real world.